Now, Afghan citizens turning voluntarily to Taliban for justice

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

KANDAHAR - Even as Republican Senator John McCain feels that securing Kandahar is the key to the success or failure of the NATO offensive in Afghanistan, Afghan citizens are turning voluntarily to the Taliban’s parallel government in a city and province for justice.

A growing numbers of citizens are turning away from new Afghanistan’s corruption-plagued justice system to an ancient means of resolving disputes that is overseen by the Taliban.

According to the Christian Science Monitor (CSM), some go because they’re Taliban partisans, while most others go because the Taliban have something to offer that the government of Afghanistan so far does not-fast, generally impartial justice from a court that doesn’t demand bribes for its services.

The phenomenon is part tradition - local mullahs have been adjudicating disputes between farmers and small businessmen for centuries.

But it’s also evidence of a government that has so far failed to deliver the governance that is crucial to success of America’s strategy in Afghanistan, according to its advocates.

“I don’t like our current government at all, and I don’t really like the Taliban, either. But I can either spend months in the government court and pay bribes, or I can go to the Taliban and have the matter settled in one day,” says Rahmatullah, who helps manage a construction site on the plains outside Kandahar where Al Qaeda once maintained training camps.

“It’s an easy choice to make,” he adds.

He says he returned home in 2004, after almost 20 years in Pakistan, with optimism about the government of President Hamid Karzai. But he says he’s lost faith. “In the government areas, there are warlords everywhere and all the police have their hands out.”

An official working with the Canadian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar says they’re well aware of the issue, and that part of the problem is the lack of competent judges.

He says they’re running a crash program to give basic training and hope to add 15 to 20 new judges to the Kandahar court system in the coming months.

There is an element of coercion for some participants in the Taliban court process. The Islamist group has sent threatening letters to men who have refused to participate. Locals say that most people comply since the group still carries out assassinations inside the city, particularly in its crowded bazaar. (ANI)

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